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Agriculture commissioner's 'Leadership for Texas' tour makes stop in Victoria


Sept. 17, 2013 at 4:17 a.m.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, right, discusses issues such as workforce training, border security and job creation Tuesday morning at Victoria's PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar. Victoria was a stop on Staples' "Leadership for Texas" bus tour. Also pictured, from left, are Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek, DeTar Healthcare System CEO Bill Blanchard and Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi.

Several decades back, other states were much like Texas is today - alive with thriving economies and people flooding in, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said.

It was after they abandoned the principles of a free market enterprise system, however, that things took a turn.

"I've gotta tell you, I don't want the Texas of tomorrow to look like the California or Illinois of today," he said. "It won't happen, as long as we're focused on where we need to be."

Staples made a stop at the PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar on Tuesday morning during the Victoria leg of his "Leadership for Texas" bus tour. There, he visited with Crossroads residents and city officials about his leadership track record and vision for the future.

Staples has announced plans to run for lieutenant governor.

The commissioner pointed to advancements in Victoria's school district, higher education and training opportunities and said it was that type of focus that would help prepare Texas' younger generation for the future.

He noted his past record, explaining he's given billions of dollars back to taxpayers and helped pass billions in tax cuts, the latter because it's important to remind job creators that Texas will treat them right.

Another important issue, he said, is border security and drug cartel members pushing landowners off their property.

Staples said he gave grants to the Texas Department of Public Safety to go toward "Operation Drawbridge," which equips game cameras with cellphones and puts them along the border. The devices snap pictures when people walk through the land.

Since its inception, the United States Border Patrol has apprehended 16,000 individuals and 35 tons of narcotics, he said.

"These are real solutions that work in securing our border," he said, adding that he developed a six-point immigration reform plan that doesn't include amnesty and starts with border security.

Tami Keeling, board president for the Victoria school district, attended Tuesday's event and said she plans to follow all candidates' discussions about education as the election cycle progresses.

"That's not the sole issue, but we all recognize the critical role education plays in the advancement of quality of life in Texas," she said. "That's what I'm listening for."

Victoria farmer George Smajstrla attended because Texas could soon have a new lieutenant governor, and he said he enjoys staying on top of what candidates have to say.

"His presentation was excellent," he said of Staples. "We'll see what tomorrow brings."

Smajstrla said he believes people should not only know the candidates and their issues but also should take it one step further.

"We need people to vote," he said. "The numbers are horrible."



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